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Embracing technological innovations in treasury management: navigating change and staying ahead of the curve

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Treasury teams must make critical decisions regarding innovation, adaptation, and competition of the future.

by Anmol Karwal

Published: June 13th 2023

As technology continues to evolve, treasury management is experiencing a significant transformation. Treasury leaders now face a crucial decision: whether to hire technologists to help them innovate, adapt and stay ahead of the competition.

At EuroFinance’s 9th annual Global Treasury Americas West Coast, treasurers at the Canadian multinational e-commerce giant, Shopify, retailer of personal care and beauty products, Sephora and experience management company, Qualtrics discussed how they identified technical talent to meet their needs, and the benefits that tech savvy treasury professionals have brought to treasury management and business growth.

Fostering a culture of innovation and curiosity

Vidhi Jain, Treasurer and head of global shared services at Qualtrics
Vidhi Jain, Treasurer and head of global shared services at Qualtrics

The foundation for effective treasury management lies in cultivating a culture of innovation and curiosity. Vidhi Jain, treasurer and head of global shared services at Qualtrics, explained the importance of having a growth mindset, as technology is continuously evolving. To attract the right talent, companies must first be prepared to adopt and adapt to technological changes.

“Before you hire technologists, you yourself have to have a growth mindset…technology is always going to evolve. So we need to be ready to adapt, but how the technology is changing, and then you can attract technologists, then you can attract the right talent for your company.” Jain told delegates at the conference.

Vidhi Jain, Treasurer and head of global shared services at Qualtrics Shopify’s senior treasury manager, Matt Martin, shared the company’s dual-track approach to talent development, focusing on both job-specific skills (crafter track) and human management and resource allocation (management track). This strategy ensures employees stay engaged and motivated while growing in their careers.

Martin also elaborated on Shopify’s mission to enable entrepreneurship and democratise commerce, highlighting the importance of staying agile and embracing new technologies. This allows treasury teams to keep pace with evolving customer needs and maintain a competitive edge.

Onboarding, training, and retention

Balancing support and autonomy when onboarding and training new hires is crucial. According to Jain, one of the essential elements in retaining and attracting talent is the opportunity for personal growth and project ownership. To compete with larger tech giants, companies must offer unique opportunities and cultivate an inclusive culture. Stefan Jensen, VP, treasurer Americas at Sephora, cited the company’s “We Belong” campaign, emphasising inclusivity, as a significant factor in attracting technologists.

In addition to promoting an inclusive culture, companies must provide ongoing training and development opportunities to ensure that employees stay current with the latest technologies and industry trends. Continuous learning is vital for treasury professionals, as it enables them to leverage new tools and strategies for improving efficiency, reducing risk, and enhancing decision-making capabilities.

Build or buy: weighing the options

Treasurers discussed their decision-making process for building or buying technology. While the preference is often to build, time and resource constraints sometimes necessitate purchasing third-party software. Sephora’s Jensen described a process that starts with internal development using basic tools, then progresses to partnering with external vendors as needed.

In deciding whether to build or buy, treasury teams must consider factors such as scalability, customization, and integration with existing systems. Building custom solutions can offer more flexibility and control, while purchasing off-the-shelf software can reduce development time and upfront costs. Ultimately, the best approach will depend on the organisation’s specific needs and resources.

Matt Martin, senior treasury manager at Shopify
Matt Martin, senior treasury manager at Shopify

Leveraging technology to drive innovation and collaboration

Treasurers agreed that both improving existing processes and delivering a different process altogether have value when leveraging technology. The key is understanding the problem that needs to be solved and assessing the potential return on investment.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics are increasingly being integrated into treasury operations, allowing for more accurate cash flow forecasting, enhanced risk management, and improved decision-making. By leveraging these technologies, treasury teams can identify trends, uncover hidden opportunities, and proactively address potential challenges.

Jensen noted that Sephora is continuously looking for ways to enhance its financial processes using technology, citing the company’s recent implementation of a cloud-based treasury management system. The new system has streamlined processes, improved visibility into cash positions, and enabled more efficient cash management.

Furthermore, treasurers highlighted the significance of embracing digital transformation across the entire organisation, not just within the treasury department. To truly harness the power of technology, treasury professionals must collaborate with other departments and external stakeholders, sharing insights, data, and best practices.

Jain discussed the benefits of implementing a Treasury Management System (TMS) to streamline processes and enable seamless communication between various systems and stakeholders. By integrating TMS, companies can automate routine tasks, reduce manual errors, and free up valuable time for strategic planning and decision-making.

As treasury management becomes increasingly interconnected with other departments, cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing become critical. By partnering with IT, finance, and operations teams, treasury professionals can drive innovative solutions and unlock new opportunities for growth and efficiency.

Stefan Jensen, VP treasurer Americas at Sephora
Stefan Jensen, VP treasurer Americas at Sephora

Preparing for the unknown: managing risk and compliance

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, treasury teams must stay vigilant in managing risk and ensuring regulatory compliance. Treasurers stressed the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with new technologies and taking a proactive approach to risk management.

Martin explained that, at Shopify, the treasury team continuously monitors their risk environment and conducts regular risk assessments. By staying informed about emerging risks, the treasury team can make informed decisions and implement appropriate controls to safeguard the company’s financial health.

In addition to managing financial and operational risks, treasury teams must also be aware of the evolving regulatory landscape. As governments and regulatory bodies work to keep pace with technological advancements, treasury professionals must stay informed about changing compliance requirements and ensure their practices adhere to the latest regulations.

The growing role of technology in treasury management presents both challenges and opportunities for companies looking to stay competitive and innovate. By fostering a culture of innovation, attracting and retaining the right talent, and adopting a forward-thinking approach to leveraging technology, treasury teams can navigate the changing landscape and position themselves for long-term success.

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